Saturday, February 12, 2011

Attacks on middle-class intensify in statehouses this week

Attacks on the middle class came fast and furious this week in statehouses throughout the country. Wisconsin's anti-worker governor, Scott Walker, dominated the news this week with his insane budget proposal and his threat to call out the National Guard on government workers. But there was plenty of other bad news for working families in Ohio and Florida (more about these later), and from Maine to Montana.

Republican governors are trying to bludgeon government workers into concessions on wages and benefits, while right-to-work (for LESS) proposals are an early priority of Republicans who've taken control in state legislatures. Remember, they have nothing to do with "rights" or "work" and everything to do with sapping unions' strength.

These bills are moving fast, so please call, write or email your elected representatives to tell them you strongly oppose these anti-middle-class proposals.

Here's a quick recap of the right-to-work (for LESS) legislation:
  • Alaska: Right-to-work (for LESS) bill, HB 134, was introduced by Republican Rep. Carl Gatto of Palmer and referred to the House Labor and Commerce and Judiciary committees.
  • Iowa: A bill to promote Iowa as a right-to-work (for LESS) bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Economic Growth/Rebuild Iowa.
  • Maine: Right-to-work (for LESS) bill, HB 251, sponsored by Rep. Tom Winsor of Norway, was sent to the Joint Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development.
  • Missouri: Right-to-work (for LESS) bills, S 1 and S197, sponsored by Sen. Luann Ridgeway of  Smithville, were heard in the Senate General Laws Committee. (Read more about it here.) There was some good news in the Show-Me State, though: Gov. Jay Nixon said he'd veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.
  • Montana: Right-to-work (for LESS) bill, LC 1931, sponsored by Rep. Art Wittich of Bozeman, was drafted and ready for delivery.
  • New Hampshire: Right-to-work (for LESS) bill, HB 474, sponsored by former CEO and now state Rep. Will Smith of New Castle, was reported out of committee and sent to the House floor for a vote.
  • New Mexico: Right-to-work (for LESS) bill, H 331, sponsored by Republic Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell of Roswell, was sent to the House Labor and Human Resources Committee.
  • Oklahoma: A bizarre bill, HB 1688, sponsored by Rep. Todd Russ, of Cordell, would nullify contracts between a union and a minor. It was sent to the House Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services.
  • Virginia: A little bit of good news here. A bill to enshrine the state's right-to-work (for LESS) law in the constitution died in committee.
  • Wisconsin: A state budget proposal that included a right-to-work (for LESS) provision for government workers (and otherwise stripped them of nearly all their collective bargaining rights, was submitted to the House.